cover image Interior Darkness: Selected Stories

Interior Darkness: Selected Stories

Peter Straub. Doubleday, $28.95 (496p) ISBN 978-0-385-54105-3

This outstanding collection of 16 reprints highlights what makes Straub such a master of genre-bending horror and suspense, and it’s an effective introduction for readers new to his considerable body of work. Each story has merit, though a few of the quickies don’t punch as hard as the longer works. In the deeply unsettling and uncomfortable “Blue Rose,” a young Harry Beevers (who appears as an adult in 1998’s Koko) reacts to his troubled home life by doing very bad things to his younger brother, Little Eddie. In “The Juniper Tree,” Straub paints a heartrending portrait of sexual abuse and its lasting repercussions as a young boy finds escape in movies, only to discover a monster lurking in the theater’s shadows. “The Buffalo Hunter” is an unnerving story about a man with a very active internal life who discovers he has an unusual ability (and amasses an impressive baby bottle collection). “The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine” features a couple with unusual and painful proclivities who take a creepy yacht trip down the Amazon River. Straub has a proven knack for black humor, and he coaxes the nightmarish out of the mundane with startling ease. This is a powerful collection from an enduring favorite in literary chills. Agent: David Gernert, Gernert Company. (Feb.)